- Gustavo Kuerten
Infobox Tennis player
playername= Gustavo Kuerten
datebirth= birth date and age|mf=yes|1976|09|10
placebirth= Florianópolis, Brazil
height= 6'3" (190 cm)
weight= 183 lb (83 kg)
plays= Right-handed; one-handed backhand
singlestitles= 20 (+2 Challengers)
highestsinglesranking= No. 1 (December 4, 2000)
AustralianOpenresult= 3rd (2004)
FrenchOpenresult= W (1997, 2000, 2001)
Wimbledonresult= QF (1999)
USOpenresult= QF (1999, 2001)
Othertournaments = Yes
MastersCupresult = W (2000)
Olympicsresult = QF (2000)
doublestitles= 8 (+3 Challengers)
highestdoublesranking= No. 38 (October 13, 1997)
updated= September 27, 2008
Gustavo Kuerten (born September 10, 1976 in
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina) is a former World No. 1 tennisplayer from Brazil. He won the French Open three times between 1997 and 2001, and was the Tennis Masters Cupchampion in 2000. After 12 years on the international tour, he retired from top-level tennis in May 2008.
Personal and early career
Kuerten was born in Florianópolis in southern Brazil to a family of German descent.
Kuerten is also known as "Guga", an affectionate nickname which is a common abbreviation of the name "Gustavo" in Portuguese-speaking countries.
He began playing tennis when he was six, an early start to a life and career marked by family tragedy. His father, a former amateur tennis player, died of a heart attack in 1985 while umpiring a junior tennis match in Florianópolis, when Kuerten was only eight years old. His youngest brother suffered prolonged oxygen deprivation and consequently irreparable brain damage during birth, and as a result suffered from mental retardation and severe physical disability until his death in 2007. [ [http://www.atptennis.com/1/en/2007news/guga_brother.asp ATPtennis.com - Tennis news from around the world ] ] Kuerten was deeply affected by his brother's daily struggles, later donating the entire prize money from one tournament he has won every year of his professional career so far to a hometown NGO that provides assistance for people suffering from similar disabilities. He gave every trophy he won to his younger brother as a souvenir, including the three miniature replicas of the French Open men's singles trophy.
As a young player, Kuerten was heavily influenced by
Oscar Wegner, then teaching in Florianópolis, who coached him for eight years. When he was 14 years old, Kuerten met Larri Passoswho would be his coach for the following 15 years. Passos convinced Kuerten and his family that the youth was talented enough to make a living out of playing tennis. The two started traveling all over the world to participate in junior tournaments. Kuerten turned professional in 1995.
After two years as a professional, Kuerten rose to the position of no. 2 player in Brazil, second only to
Fernando Meligeni, and had his then highest point by helping the Brazil Davis Cup teamdefeat Austria in 1996 and reach the competition's first division, the World Group.
Following his unexpected victory in the 1997 French Open, Kuerten had a difficult year and a half, adjusting to his sudden fame and the pressure of being expected to win. 1998 was the worst year in his career that was not related to injuries (in that year, Kuerten played beneath his potential, despite not being hindered by physical problems). The pressure for him to become an "ambassador" for tennis in Brazil was made evident after his early defeat to a then unknown
Marat Safinin the 1998 French Open: the entire body of Brazilian journalists that had been dispatched to Paris to cover the event immediately returned home, leaving the rest of the tournament unaccounted for in Brazil.
Like many South Americans his favorite court surface is clay. He has won three Grand Slam titles, all of them at the
French Open, played on the clay courts of Roland Garros. He won these titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001. Kuerten became the No. 1 player in the world in 2000 using his unique serve and strong ground strokes.
Kuerten embraces the baseline style of play, with heavily topspun ground strokes and a solid serve that enables him to wear down his opponent from the back of the court. His unique "grunt" when he strikes the ball is recognised by millions of fans around the world.
Kuerten represents Brazil in the
Davis Cupcompetition, but in the past few years his seasons have been plagued by injuries. Kuerten is one of the most widely recognised and popular tennis players on the ATP tour.
At the 1997 French Open, he became the first Brazilian to win a Grand Slam singles title since Maria Ester Bueno last single title at 1966 U.S. Open. Victories over three former champions:
Thomas Muster(3rd round), Yevgeny Kafelnikov(quarterfinals) and Sergi Bruguera(final) made him the second-lowest ranked Grand Slam Champion (ranked 66th) and this led to him entering the ATP top 20.
In 1999, he became one of three South Americans to complete the year in the top 10 in all the history of the ATP rankings. He reached the quarterfinals at the French Open. At Wimbledon, he became the first Brazilian to reach the quarterfinals since
Thomaz Kochin 1967. He was defeated by Andre Agassiin the quarterfinals, but had lost just one set until that stage. In July, he defeated Sébastien Grosjean9–7 in the fifth set of the 1999 Davis Cupquarterfinal between Brazil and France. That match lasted 4 hours and 43 minutes. He also became the first Brazilian to qualify for the ATP World Championship, today known as the ATP Tennis Masters Cup, which is exclusive to the eight best ranked players in the calendar year.
Kuerten won his second French Open title and became the first South American to finish the year as World No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings (since 1973). It was a close contest with
Marat Safin(who was tipped to be the future of tennis for many years to come) at the year's last event, the Tennis Masters Cup (in its first year under that name) in Lisbon, Portugal, with one loss meaning that Safin would have been No. 1. In order to finish the year as the world No. 1 player, Kuerten did what many critics had deemed impossible (for him to do): beat Pete Samprasand Andre Agassiin back-to-back matches on an indoor hard court.
He broke an eight-year hold of players from the U.S. on the year-end No. 1 position. He also became the first South American to finish in Top 5 in consecutive years since
Guillermo Vilasof Argentinain 1977-78.
In 2001, he won his third French Open crown, joining former greats
Björn Borg(6), Ivan Lendl(3) and Mats Wilander(3) with three or more French Open titles in the Open Era. His road to the title was not uneventful: Kuerten saved a match point against Fourth Round opponent Michael Russell. He also won the biggest hardcourt title of his career in August at the Cincinnati Masters, where he defeated Patrick Rafterin the final. He led the ATP in prize money for the second straight year, with US$4,091,004.
In an injury-ridden year, Kuerten still managed to win one ATP Tour title, which he did at home, by winning the
Brasil Openfor the second time. In that year, the tournament had been moved from September to February, and the surface had been changed from hard to clay (all this was done as a result of a compromise with the Buenos Aires Open, in Argentina, and the Viña del Mar Open, in Chile, so as to tighten up a clear South American tournament circuit). With his victory, Kuerten became the only player so far to have won the title on both surfaces and dates (he had won the previous version of the tournament in 2002).
The one other noteworthy event in Kuerten's season was that he was responsible for the only defeat of
Roger Federerin a Grand Slam event in that year. In Kuerten's only previous encounter against Federer on clay, in the Hamburg Masters 2002, Federer defeated Kueren 6-0, 1-6, 6-2. When they met again in the third round at the French Open in 2004, it was Federer who was in dominant form and was expected to win handily against the injury-ridden Kuerten. Instead, it was Kuerten who overpowered and dominated Federer and sent him off in straight sets (6–4, 6–4, 6–4).
On September 1, Kuerten announced that he would be withdrawing from the ATP Tour for an indefinite period of time, in order to undergo detailed exams of his operated hip, which had reportedly started to bother him again. He did not play again for the rest of the year.
In February 2005, Kuerten announced his return in the Valencia Open, in Spain, which he would enter thanks to his ATP protected rank (a fictional ranking designed to help injured players: Kuerten would be able to enter automatically in as many as eight tournaments without the need of a wildcard or playing qualifying matches).
On March 15, 2005, Kuerten announced that
Larri Passos, his coach for 15 years, would no longer be his coach as of his return to the tour at the Valencia Open. Reportedly, the decision to break up the partnership was harmonius and mutual, since Passos had expressed his unwillingness to continue travelling the world after the birth of his first daughter. Kuerten also announced that he had no plans of hiring a new coach at the moment. After a slow start, however, Kuerten decided to hire temporarily Argentine former player Hernán Gumy, who started coaching him in the Italian Open 2005 and would continue to do so in the weeks leading up to the French Open and during Kuerten's campaign in the Grand Slam event. After a poor campaign at the French Open (lost in the first round), Kuerten decided to retain Gumy's orientation for an undisclosed amount of time. Kuerten has also announced that he would not be playing any tournaments in the following months, with the exception of Davis Cup matches. He would return only in the tournaments that serve as preparation for the U.S. Open (but he did not play the two Tennis Masters Seriesevents in North America). Following a second round defeat at the US Open (despite a promising first round win), Kuerten focused solely on his Davis Cup matches for the remainder of the season, which also resulted in 2005 being the first year without a title for Kuerten since 1996 (his second year as a professional player). Kuerten also decided to retain Gumy as his coach, apparently abandoning the idea of playing in the Tour without a coach.
In the first months of 2006, injuries and weak performances kept Kuerten from reclaiming his condition as a top world player. Ranked out of the top 200, Kuerten is no longer the top player in Brazil (currently behind
Ricardo Melloand Flávio Saretta) and is expected to need wildcards to play any of the main tournaments of the season. His main attempt to come back, at the 2006 Brasil Open, was cut short in the first round. Following this debacle, Kuerten managed to obtain wildcards to play in the two North American Masters Series events, Miami and Indian Wells, but injuries forced Kuerten to withdraw from both. The French Tennis Federation had announced that Kuerten, as a three-time champion, would have every chance of being granted a wildcard to play at the 2006 French Open, provided that he managed to remain active throughout the 2006 season leading up to the French Open. Because Kuerten had been inactive in the Men's Tour since mid-February, he was not granted the wildcard to play, thus missing the French Open for the first time in his professional career.
Kuerten's form did not improve in 2007. Because his ranking was not high enough to qualify for ATP Tour tournaments, Kuerten relied on wild cards to enter those events. Kuerten finished with a 2–7 win-loss record for the year.
In November, Gustavo Kuerten's younger brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, died.
Kuerten has made an announcement that he expects 2008 to be his final year of play. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/01/06/sports/LA-SPT-TEN-Kuerten.php Report: Brazil's Kuerten to play his last season in 2008 - International Herald Tribune ] ] Kuerten has chosen to devise his schedule around tournaments that have sentimental value to him, such as the French Open where he lost in the first round, the
Brasil Open, and the Miami Masters. After two first-round defeats in singles (Costa do Sauípe, l. to Berlocq and Miami, l. to Grosjean), Kuerten won his first ATP Masters Series level match in a long time, partnering Nicolas Lapentti, in Miami, against Feliciano Lopezand Fernando Verdasco.
On May 25, 2008, Gustavo Kuerten played his last professional singles match in front of 15,000 spectators at Roland Garros. He arrived on court wearing his 'lucky' uniform, the same blue & yellow one that he wore in 1997 when he won his first
French Opentournament. Despite saving a match point against his opponent Paul-Henri Mathieu, he finally lost in 3 sets (6-3, 6-4, 6-2). He was honoured after the game by the tournament organizers and by all the fans present for what he has achieved throughout his career.
* He and
Roger Federerare the only non-North American tennis players who have appeared in the finals of all four ATP Masters Seriesevents played on the continent (Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal/Toronto and Cincinnati).
* His fastest serve was measured at 212 km/h (131 mph) at the Gstaad Open in 1999.
* Kuerten has won ATP Tour singles titles in 13 different countries:
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and the United States.
* His highest rank in the ATP Champions Race was #1 June 12, 2000.
* When Kuerten won the 1997 French Open ranked 66th in the world (Entry system, prior to the creation of the Champions' Race), he became the second lowest ranked player to win a Grand Slam event (second to
Mark Edmondson, who won the 1976 Australian Open ranked 212th in the world). Since then, Kuerten has been bumped down to third place, when Goran Ivaniševićwon the 2001 Wimbledon ranked 125th in the world.
* For two years, Kuerten had the second highest number of aces in a single match: 47 (second to Netherlands'
Richard Krajicek's 49). This was achieved in a 2003 Davis Cup rubber against Canada's Daniel Nestor. The match was valid for that year's Repechage Round. Despite the aces, Kuerten lost the match in five sets. Kuerten's record has since been bumped to fourth place, when in 2005 both Joachim Johansson, of Sweden, and Ivo Karlović, of Croatia, fired 51 aces in their respective matches.
* In 2005, TENNIS Magazine put him in 37th place in its list of "The 40 Greatest Players of the TENNIS Era".
* He is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English.
* His elder brother, Rafael Kuerten, looks after his business matters.
* Plays: Right-handed with a one-handed backhand using a western grip.
* Kuerten won at least one title a year between 1997 and 2004 (which meant that he had not won titles only in the first two years of his professional career: 1995 and 1996). The streak came to an end in 2005, when injuries and below-average performances kept him from winning tournaments.
* Kuerten was fortunate enough that every time he won the French Open, he received the trophy from a tennis star from the past (as opposed to athletes from other sports or even unrelated celebrities): in 1997, the trophy was presented to him by
Guillermo Vilasand Björn Borg, in 2000, he received the award from Boris Becker, and in 2001, from Jim Courier.
* The 1997 French Open trophy presentation was marked by two amusing passages: first, when called to the stage to receive the winner's trophy, Kuerten bowed a few times to Björn Borg, who was waiting at the top of the stairs to shake his hand. It was a reverence to one of Kuerten's childhood icons. Later, during the ceremony, Guillermo Vilas whispered something in Kuerten's ear that caused him to laugh during the speech of the chairman of the event. Kuerten later refused to reveal what it was that Vilas had said, claiming it would be inelegant to do so, but journalists that were equipped with powerful lenses were able to read Vilas's lips, and it was revealed that he had said (in Spanish) something like: "Get ready kid, it's going to rain women on your lap!"
* In every one of the three times Kuerten won the French Open: 1) he defeated
Yevgeny Kafelnikov, of Russia, in the quarterfinal match; 2) he defeated exactly two Top 10 players (at the time of each event).
* Gustavo is renowned for having one of the most characteristic "grunts" when he strikes the ball; it is actually more of a moan.
Grand Slam singles finals
Tennis Masters Cup singles finals
Grand Slam tournaments
1997 French OpenFor the third time faced Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quartefinal match; For the second time, faced Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Semifinal match. Saved a match point against Michael Russell in the Fourth Round.
1999 Monte Carlo Open
2001 Monte Carlo OpenAfter losing his first Round Robin match, Kuerten had to win the tournament in order to finish the year as world n.1 (had he won the first match, a semifinal result would have sufficed).
ATP Tour career earnings
: * As of March 5, 2007.
Kuerten was first called to play for Brazil in the
Davis Cupin 1996, when he became the second-best ranked player in the country (to Fernando Meligeni). Since then, Kuerten has always answered the invitations to play, claiming that it was a unique opportunity to represent his country.
In the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Kuerten took criticism from his fans, who accused him of not giving 100% in the Davis Cup matches. They claimed he was more concerned with sparing his energy for the ATP tournaments. At one point, Kuerten interrupted a match to argue with a fan who had shouted out for him to apply himself to the match at hand.
In 2004, following the country's unexpected defeat to Canada in the Repechage match, and the country's demotion to the American Group I after having been defeated by Sweden in that year's First Round, discontent with the politics of the
Brazilian Tennis Confederationspilled over. Kuerten refused to play for Brazil in the American Group I. The unexpected firing of then captain of the Brazilian team, Ricardo Accioly, was the trigger. Kuerten thought it was an arbitrary decision, since it was made without consulting the players. In his view that was just the last in a sequence of questionable decisions made by organization's board.
All other professional Brazilian players followed Kuerten's lead, as well as the newly-appointed captain, former player
Jaime Oncins. As a result, Brazil had to play the first round in the Zonal Group with a team made up of junior players (which was only possible after much negotiation, during which time the country was at risk of forfeiting the Round, which would have resulted in automatic demoting to the American Group II), which resulted in a defeat and the possibility of demotion to the American Group II.
The protest continued, and as a result, Brazil had to play the Repechage match again with a junior team, and was demoted to the American Group II for the 2005 season. As of 2005, following the fall of the BTC board in the aftermath of the protest, Kuerten and the other players have decided to return to the team, now captained by former player
Fernando Meligeni. Kuerten, however, had to delay his return beyond the end of the players' strike, since his hip injuries kept him off courts between September of 2004 and May 2005. He returned in the Tie with the Netherland Antilles, valid for the Second Round of the American Zonal Group II, which was played in Santa Catarina, Brazil (on clay) between July 15 and July 17, 2005.
Kuerten's Davis Cup record is as follows:
Total Clay Carpet Grass Hard Indoor Outdoor Won 34 28 6 0 0 8 26 Lost 15 8 5 2 0 5 10
Davis Cup results
1996QF – Quarterfinal | SF – Semifinal | QR – Qualifying Round
*During the Doubles match, the star of the Austrian team, Thomas Muster, got angry over what he claimed to be disrespectful Brazilian fans, who were allegedly insulting him from the stands. The match umpire did not recognize his claim, so Muster walked off the court, throwing the match. He then convinced the entire Austrian team to defect the confront, which led to the cancellation of the two singles matches on Sunday and the automatic demotion of Austria to the European Zonal Group I.
*cite book |author= |title=Gustavo Kuerten e Roland Garros: uma História de Amor |publisher=Instituto Takano |location= |year=2002 |pages= |isbn=85-902671-1-3 |oclc= |doi=
*cite book |author= |title=Tênis no Brasil: de Maria Esther Bueno a Gustavo Kuerten, O |publisher=Codex |location= |year=2004 |pages= |isbn=85-7594-031-7 |oclc= |doi=
* [http://www.tenniscorner.net/index.php?corner=m&action=players&playerid=KUG001 Profile at tenniscorner.net]
* [http://steveghelper.com/MatchResults.php?countries=&players=Kuerten&weektype=this&weeks=12&from_date=&weeks_back= Kuerten Recent Match Results]
* [http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/players/playerprofiles/highlights.asp?playernumber=K293 Career highlights on www.atptennis.com (Part of ATP Profile)]
*pt icon [http://www.guga.com.br Official site]
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